My 11th-12th grade Psychology class has been paperless since the 2013-2014 school year. All content is delivered through a learning management system (LMS) like Schoology. All student work is completed using Google Docs and submitted through Schoology. In my classroom, I have never used a textbook and since we started having laptops in classrooms in 2008, the majority of my coursework has always been completed online. During the 2013-2014 school year, I decided to go entirely paperless.
As an elective, my course attracts a diverse group of students. Some of my students are comfortable using the Internet and technology to complete work while others strongly dislike it at first. Each task during the first unit of study for my class is designed to help students become familiar with a paperless class and to teach them how to complete and submit work. I have found that this acquisition process is a vital part of my paperless class.
A paperless classroom makes it easier to build a learning network beyond the classroom but student motivation will always be a factor in their ability to learn. Students in my classes today complete the same activities that they completed before I decided to go paperless. I modified all of my assignments to fit into a weekly discussion format. Students still take tests but now they are done through our LMS. I have found that students that complete the weekly discussions score significantly higher on tests. This is most likely because the students are engaged with the content and in discussion with peers when they complete the weekly discussions. Some students that may not have spoke up in class, are now participating because they are more comfortable completing the work online. At the same time, the students that do not participate in work outside of class are missing this valuable learning experience.
Having a paperless class has become easier each year. However, a teacher needs to have access to the Internet on a daily basis in order to have a paperless class. I have been lucky in that my district provides the resources that enable me to teach using a paperless class. Having done so for three years now, I would not enjoy returning to a class that was not paperless.